We continue to be impressed by the number of farms that are improving their production numbers. Currently, 17 farms in the Swine Management Services (SMS) database are averaging over 30 pigs weaned/mated female/year (PW/MF/Y).  As the reports about the impact of the drought mount each day, every extra weaned pig can cut the cost of production.

Information in our database allows us to calculate the cost to raise a weaned pig. The average of for the last 12 months was about $34. Being able to spread those costs over more pigs per sow is important.  With $6/bu. corn, each additional PW/MF/Y reduces the cost per pig weaned by approximately $1.60.  On the 30 PW/MF/Y  farms, the cost of producing pigs is $6 to $8 lower than farms producing 25 PW/MF/Y.

To look at some of the differences in production numbers based on PW/MF/Y, we selected 493 farms with a total inventory of 876,101 mated females from the SMS database of 811 farms with 1,414,000 females. Farms selected had to be in full production for 52 weeks. Farms that were new start-ups, repopulating, using parity segregation or with major disease breaks were not included.

Qualifying farms had to average at least 20 PW/MF/Y. Farms were broken down into six categories by PW/MF/Y as follows:

  • 30 PW/MF/Y or more
  • 28 to 29.9 PW/MF/Y
  • 26 to 27.9 PW/MF/Y
  • 24 to 25.9 PW/MF/Y
  • 22 to 23.9 PW/MF/Y
  • 20 to 21.9 PW/MF/Y

Table 1 contains data from the 493 farms showing the number of farms in the six categories for PW/MF/Y, litters/mated female/year, average female parity, farrowing interval, average non-productive days, average mated female non-productive days, gilt replacement rate, percent females culled, average parity culled and percent female death loss. 

The 493 farms averaged 25.40 PW/MF/Y with a range of 31.26 PW/MF/Y for the top 13 farms and 21.32 PW/MF/Y for the bottom 34 farms. Litters/mated female/year varied from 2.49 to 2.26 and averaged 2.40. Average parity is 2.70, with 30 PW/MF/Y or more averaging 2.49 vs. farms at 20-22 PW/MF/Y averaging 2.83.

When we look at farrowing interval, the range is 143.4 to 149.1 days, with a difference of 5.7 days.  We list average non-productive days in the table, however, this is a number we do not look at because there is some variation in the way gilts are entered into the record program.  If you are entering gilts 60 days before they are bred, non-productive days are higher.  To be able to compare farm more accurately, we use “average mated female non-productive days.” In this database, the range is 22.4 to 49.8 days, with an average of 34.3 days.

Table 1 also shows gilt replacement rate ranges from 50.6% to 63.3%, with an average of 53.0%.  It is interesting to see the top farms have younger sow herds with a higher replacement rate and producing more pigs.  With changes in how producers pay genetic royalties and the high prices for cull sows the last few years, more producers are turning their gilts faster and keeping cost of replacement gilts low. The top farms also have a lower female death loss at 4.7% vs. the bottom farms at 7.9%. For each 1% change in female death loss there is a drop or gain of 0.25 PW/MF/Y.  An improvement of 4% equals one more PW/MF/Y.

A review of Table 1 shows the top 13 farms with over 30 PW/MF/Y get more litters per sow per year with a higher farrowing rate, lower wean-to-1st service interval, faster turns of sow inventory and work to keep sow death loss lower. 

Chart 1 shows the distribution of the 811 farms in the full SMS database and the subset of 493 farms used for this article.  We continue to be amazed by the wide variation – from less than 15 PW/MF/Y to over 30PW/MF/Y.

Looking at the trend lines for the most recent 12 quarters, the top 13 farms (30 PW/MF/Y or more) in Charts 2-5 and the 151 farms with 20-23.9 PW/MF/Y in Charts 6-9 can be compared.  Charts 2 and 6 show the 30+ PW/MF/Yfarms improving from 27.70 to 31.11 PW/MF/Y, while the bottom farms remain static at 22-23 PW/MF/Y.

Farrowing intervals in Charts 4 and 8 show the Top 13 farms dropped from 146.6 to 142.6 days, while the bottom 151 farms increased from 146.0 to 148.8 days.  That is a difference of 6.2 days, which at $2.50/day for open sow days is a cost of $15.50/sow/year in housing cost.

Charts 5 and 9 look at female death loss (%).  The lower bracketed farms’ female death loss averages over 6% while the top farms are trending down from 8.6 to 4.5%, which is an improvement of 1 PW/MF/Y. 

We know there are lots of variables that affect PW/MF/Y, including genetics, nutrition, facilities, size of farm, etc.  So why is there a difference of 10 PW/MF/Ybetween the top 13 farms and the bottom 34 farms? We feel the biggest variable is people.  It is important to develop a culture that engages long-term employees.  As feed costs continue to climb, an extra PW/MF/Y could reduce the cost to raise all pigs from that sow by about $1.60/pig. Reducing open sow days by one day could save $2.50/sow/day.  Fine- tuning the little things can reduce production costs.

Our 10th Anniversary

Swine Management Services celebrated its 10-year anniversary on Aug. 1, 2012.  We would like to thank all of our customers, friends and people in the swine industry who have supported us and our business during our first decade.  

Key Performance Indicators

Tables 2 and 3 (below) provide 52-week and 13-week rolling averages for key performance indicators (KPI) of breeding herd performance.  These tables reflect the most current quarterly data available and are presented with each column.  The KPI’s can be used as general guidelines to measure the productivity of your herd compared to the top 10% and top 25% of farms, the average performance for all farms, and the bottom 25% of farms in the SMS database.

If you have questions or comments about these columns, or if you have a specific performance measurement that you would like to see benchmarked in our database, please address them to:  mark.rix@swinems.com or ron.ketchem@swinems.com.